News Sentiment in the Time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing severe disruptions to daily life and economic activity. Reliable assessments of the economic fallout in this rapidly evolving situation require timely data. Existing sentiment indexes are useful indicators of current and future spending but are only available with a lag or have a short history. A new Daily News Sentiment Index provides a way to measure sentiment in real time from 1980 to today. Compared with survey-based measures of consumer sentiment, this index shows an earlier and more pronounced drop in sentiment in recent weeks.
Fueling road spending with federal stimulus
Highway spending in the United States between 2008 and 2011 was flat, despite the serious need for improvements and the big boost to state highway funds from the Recovery Act of 2009. A comparison of how much different states received and spent shows that these federal grants actually boosted highway spending substantially. However, this was offset by pressures to reduce state highway spending due to plummeting tax revenues. In fact, analysis suggests national highway spending would have fallen roughly 20% over this period without federal highway grants from the Recovery Act.
Government spending: an economic boost?
The severe global economic downturn and the large stimulus programs that governments in many countries adopted in response have generated a resurgence in research on the effects of fiscal policy. One key lesson emerging from this research is that there is no single fiscal multiplier that sums up the economic impact of fiscal policy. Rather, the impact varies widely depending on the specific fiscal policies put into effect and the overall economic environment.
Taking the Fed at its Word: A New Approach to Estimating Central Bank Objectives Using Text Analysis
We propose a new approach to estimating central bank objectives, including the implicit inflation target, that requires no priors on the underlying macroeconomic structure nor observation of monetary policy actions. Our approach entails directly estimating the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) objective function from the tone used by participants at the internal meetings. The results challenge two key aspects of conventional wisdom regarding FOMC preferences. First, the FOMC had an implicit inflation target of approximately 1 1/2 percent on average over our baseline 2000 ? 2013 sample ...
Highway grants: roads to prosperity?
Federal highway grants to states appear to boost economic activity in the short and medium term. The short-term effects appear to be due largely to increases in aggregate demand. Medium-term effects apparently reflect the increased productive capacity brought by improved roads. Overall, each dollar of federal highway grants received by a state raises that state?s annual economic output by at least two dollars, a relatively large multiplier.
Has the Wage Phillips Curve Gone Dormant?
Although the labor market has steadily strengthened, wage growth has remained slow in recent years. This raises the question of whether the wage Phillips curve?the traditional relationship between labor market slack and wage growth?has weakened. Estimating a causal link from slack to wage growth using national data is difficult. However, using city-level data over the past 25 years shows that the cross-city relationship has weakened since the Great Recession. Explanations consistent with this timing suggest that the Phillips curve may return to a steeper curve in the future.
The Road of Federal Infrastructure Spending Passes Through the States
Because federal infrastructure spending largely takes the form of grants to state governments, the macroeconomic impact of such packages depends on the share of federal grants that “passes through” to actual infrastructure spending done by states. A low degree of pass-through would tend to mute the economic impact from federal grants, reflecting a crowd-out effect on state spending. We first revisit Knight’s (2002) influential finding of near-zero pass-through (perfect crowd out) of federal highway grants. That result is found to be specification-sensitive and is reversed completely in ...
Tax competition among U.S. states: racing to the bottom or riding on a seesaw?
This paper provides an empirical analysis of the determination of capital tax policy by U.S. states based on new panel data, a new econometric technique, and a new theoretical model. The analysis is undertaken with a panel data set covering all 48 contiguous states for the period 1969 to 2004 and is guided by the theory of strategic tax competition. The latter suggests that capital tax policy is a function of out-of-state tax policy, in-state and out-of-state economic conditions, and, perhaps most importantly, preferences for government services. Using the Common Correlated Effects Pooled ...
The mystery of falling state corporate income taxes
The share of corporate profits in the U.S. collected by state governments via the corporate income tax has fallen sharply in the past quarter century. Some commentators have even referred to this as the "disappearance" of the state corporate income tax (SCIT). Such claims, of course, are an exaggeration--after all, a longer perspective reveals that the share of profits collected by state corporate income taxes was actually lower in the 1960s than it is now. Nonetheless, state public finance experts and state policymakers surely are correct in noting that, since around 1980, corporate ...
We look at disaggregated imports of various types of equipment to make inferences on cross-country differences in the composition of equipment investment. We make three contributions. First, we document large differences in investment composition. Second, we explain these differences as being based on each equipment type's intrinsic efficiency, as well as on its degree of complementarity with other factors whose abundance differs across countries. Third, we examine the implications of investment composition for development accounting, i.e., explaining the cross-country variation in income per ...